Men’s Health: How BCA chiropractors are transforming the men’s health scene
With the Men’s Health Forum reporting that prostate cancer diagnoses were down 29% between 2019 and 2020 because men are not seeing their GPs to start their diagnosis process, Marc Sanders, chiropractor and member of the British Chiropractic Association discusses the role chiropractors can play in recognising signs of potential ill health in male patients, this Men’s Health Week (12- 18 June).
Men’s Health Week is a good reminder for men to take control of their health. It’s an opportunity to take action and make that appointment that you’ve been putting off. Maybe it’s a niggling joint injury that you’ve had for years but have never got around to seeing someone about it. Perhaps it’s symptoms to do with your heart, breathing, or a mole you’re worried about. Use this week to look after yourself and book an appointment in.
It’s easy for men to ignore early symptoms and put off going to see a doctor or specialist until our symptoms are much worse. We think that if we pretend the symptoms aren’t there then it isn’t real and we can say ‘I’m fine’ to those around us. It’s a classic stereotype that is gradually changing. Men realise that we have to face up to our health fears and the mindset of ‘seeing someone sooner’ helps to protect our long-term health for ourselves and our families.
The diagnostic skills of a chiropractor
BCA chiropractors can provide support for men who have either put off visiting their doctor or do not think something is significant enough to be investigated. Patients might visit a chiropractor with a pain complaint, and through our diagnostic expertise we can sometimes identify other symptoms which might point to something more serious, like prostate or skin cancer, and refer them onto their GP or another healthcare professional.
As BCA chiropractors, when new patients come to us, we always complete a thorough patient health review – which mirrors our patient-centred approach. This helps us to understand, or potentially pick up existing or new medical problems, which may or may not be related to their chiropractic visit. The most common symptoms chiropractors pick up among male patients are urinary complaints; skin complaints, such as suspicious moles; high blood pressure (hypertension); suspicion of inflammatory back pain or low bone density.
Patient case study
Recently, one male patient in his 60s told me, as part of his patient review, that he had been suffering from urinary problems over the last two years but had not yet seen his GP about it. We know that prostate problems are extremely common in men over 50, with one in three males having some symptoms of prostate enlargement. Moreover, up to 50% of men over the age of 50 and up to 80% of men over the age of 80 experience urinary symptoms from benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH). This is where the prostate enlarges, which can cause a variety of symptoms, including slowing of the start of the urine stream, the need to urinate during the night and urinary urgency. In this case, whilst this was not linked to the patient’s chiropractic pain complaint, I was able to refer him to his GP for further investigation and treatment.
In another example, I saw a patient for neck pain who also had a suspicious looking mole on the top of his head. He did not know he had this mole as it was in an area not easily visible to him. Following advice to have this mole investigated by a GP, the mole was removed, and a biopsy was taken to see if it was cancerous; thankfully it was benign. The patient was very pleased that I had taken the time to inform him and recommend a referral to his GP.
BCA chiropractors can play an important role in educating and encouraging men to take control of their own health. Part of this is about normalising the discussion of men’s health issues and supporting them in visiting their GP and other healthcare professionals. In my practice alone, I refer at least three patients a week to their doctor for further assessment.
Mind and Body MOT
We aim to take some pressure off the NHS by identifying patients with health conditions at earlier stages so that treatment is less invasive, less costly, and more effective for patients and the healthcare system alike. Just like we have our cars checked for issues every year, it’s good for men to seek the expertise and advice of healthcare professionals to have a body and mind MOT and get a service as needed.
As men we need self-care too. This means doing things that make your mind and body happy. Often this is carving out time to look after your needs such as playing a round of golf with friends, taking a proper rest at weekends after a heavy work week, taking a hike in nature, decompressing by watching a good TV series, the football or Formula 1. The activities that recharge us are different for everyone; find what works for you and make that a protected time so that you ensure you’re doing something positive for your health every week.
 Lokeshwar, S.D., Harper, B.T., Webb, E., Jordan, A., Dykes, T.A., Neal Jr, D.E., Terris, M.K. and Klaassen, Z., 2019. Epidemiology and treatment modalities for the management of benign prostatic hyperplasia. Translational andrology and urology, 8(5), p.529 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6842780/